I’m an Eisenhower and a Colombian
I want President Trump to look at my last name. I want him to process that my great-great grandfather was the 34th president of the United States, and that my parents were born in Bogota, Colombia, making me — you guessed it — Colombian.
That reality is what makes the United States so extraordinary. That we live in a country where citizens come from every type of background imaginable is remarkable. That we live in a nation where people give up everything to have the chance to study here, send their children here, and make a life here, is even more so. And it is America’s honor and privilege to welcome them.
Like many others, I did not sleep the night Trump was elected. The anguish that consumed me and my fellow New Yorkers, this heart-wrenching feeling of disbelief and terror, is something that will stay with me forever.
During World War II, Dwight D. Eisenhower fought to destroy the cancerous seeds of hate, greed and fear that were spreading throughout Europe. He did this to prevent future generations from having to suffer through the same tragedies, to prevent future attacks on liberty, and to uphold the values and morals that make us proud to be American.
Alas, here we are again. Except this time the war for principles and ideals is on our soil. And this time it will be up to us to win it.
It is an understatement to say that I strongly disagree with everything Trump has done in his first few weeks. His attempts to suspend the admission of new refugees to the USA, temporarily bar citizens from seven Muslimmajority countries and place an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees are catastrophic.
My father, Eduardo Mendoza de la Torre, was granted political asylum by the United States in 1992. If America had not helped him leave Colombia, he would have been murdered — and I would not be writing these words.
We are not a nation that allows suffering to go unnoticed. Would it be easier not to do anything? Would it be easier to ignore other countries’ problems? Of course. But taking the easy route never helped change lives.
As our ideals of compassion, courage and acceptance are thrown out the window, our allies are isolated, pressing environmental issues go unaddressed and the suffering of immigrants and refugees is disregarded, we have to stand together.
It does not help to say that Trump is “not my president” because, unfortunately, he got the job. Yet we must remain optimistic.
As Ike once said, “Pessimism never won any battles.” My promise to him, to those who fought for everything we have today and to those who continue to fight, to every U.S. citizen who believes that we are better than this, and most important, to those who are suffering — we will not give up. Remember, Mr. Trump, tenacity will always triumph over tyranny.